"It wasn't so easy," reported Paul Calabro from USskyads to ExplorersWeb a few hours ago. "A thunderstorm came in that we had to dodge."
"Hundreds of people lined up in Battery Park waiting to board the ferry to the Statue of Liberty," reported New York Times. "At first, very few noticed a small airplane circling the statue, towing a banner that read, Red Torch for Tibet.
Meanwhile in the Rockies...
The letters were difficult to read from the dock, reported NYT journalist David Giambusso in his article about New Yorkers marking the Olympics with protests. But, estimated Paul Calabro, the banner should have been seen by at least half a million.
Meanwhile in Colorado, a woman with a mission hurried up a 14,000er. A dark cloud was moving in over the summit. One fellow hiker on the path informed that lightnings in the Colorado Rockies had already killed two this summer.
But at 11 am Mountain time, timing exactly with the scheduled 1 pm EST plane flight over the Manhattan skyline; ExWeb's editor Tina Sjogren lit a red torch for Human rights at Mt Democrat.
"I have never done anything like this before; I'm not an activist," said Tina. "But I'm a political refugee from former Czechoslovakia and communism tore my entire family apart."
"I also traveled through China overland many years ago, and Tibet extensively after it had just opened up to foreigners in 1985. I saw young cadres raised in Beijing to become monsters; their parents and elders suffering unimaginably in the countryside. In Lhasa, Monks would slip notes to us reading "help." I could do nothing for them then. I can now."
ExWeb in South Africa/Robben Island and Europe/Sunrise Peak
Over in South Africa a few weeks earlier, ExWeb's polar editor Correne Erasmus-Coetzer had her own hurdles. Torches off limits due to forest fires, Correne made a "torch" wrapping her body in a piece of red cloth, in a troubled part of the country.
"The 'dangerous territory' is just our mountains where we go climbing and walking, but its so bad and sad about the attacks," Correne said. "Well, this is Africa. Come to think of it, I didn't take my pepper spray with."
"Funny enough, when we took the pix a bus full of Chinese stopped! They took photos of Robben Island and left." Correne chose Robben Island for backdrop as it was here that Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were imprisoned.
In Europe, acclimatizing for a climb in the Alps, ExWeb mountain editor Angela Benavides took a huge Tibetan flag on top of Pico del Alba (translated: Sunrise peak) in Huesca's Pyreenes, "It's about 3,100 meters (low mountains of ours, sorry about that)," wrote the Madrid resident.
Calling on unlikely friends
As ExWeb had no one in NYC at the time of the banner and the flight was confirmed only 24 hours before take off, we had to call on all the miscellaneous friends the website has made in the city over the years, begging them to go out and shoot pics of the flight for Alberto's poster (one friend of a friend turned out to be from a local Homicide Crime Scene Unit!).
Early August NYC is scorching and most everyone was out of town this Friday. Finally our angel turned up in the shape of Fred Sullivan of AVdrive Inc, webmaster at 1000days.net - that's right - Reid's Mars Ocean Odyssey voyage! Million thanks for your trouble, Fred!
Tom Gallagher lits up Croagh Patrick; Reporters without Borders hijack radio broadcast
Mountaineers lit torches all over the world. Tom Gallagher colored red the summit of Croagh Patrick, a peak overlooking Clew Bay, in Murrisk, Ireland. "Croagh Patrick has been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years in Ireland and seemed a fitting place to light up the sky," he wrote. (Check Tom Gallagher's album in the links section below images for lots more pics.)
Alberto's project was not alone in actions for Human rights. Reporters without Borders took over 104.4 FM and broadcasted free radio in Beijing just hours before the opening ceremonies today. The 20 min program called for the Chinese Government to respect free speech. This was the first non-state controlled radio broadcast in China since 1949.
Desperate Ighur in Turkey
In Turkey, a member of China's Ighur minority set himself on fire but fellow demonstrators managed to extinguish the flames. The desperate man was taken to hospital with severe burns.
Tibetan groups, other Uighurs from Western China, Amnesty International - reports of protests are still arriving from places like New York, Montreal, Berlin, London, Stockholm, Madrid, San Francisco, Copenhagen, and New Delhi.
In Kathmandu, 1130 Tibetans were arrested when they demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy. In San Francisco, protesters walked over the Golden Gate Bridge after again climbing it Monday and posting Free Tibet banners.
In Copenhagen, Demonstrators pledged to cut off hair outside the Chinese Embassy, according to AP.
The inaguaration itself however lost much publicity to the Russian tanks and jets invading Georgia today. Our thoughts go of course to Georgian climber GiaTortladze (Shisha central twice, Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse and several K2 attempts, latest in 2006.) The President of the International Mountaineering Association, Georgian MP and leader of the opposition party For a United Georgia escaped a car bomb attack on his life only this past January.
Go to the SadSmokeyMountain website for other torches burning today, and Candle4tibet for candles lit last night.
The Final Ignition of red flares for climber Alberto Peruffo's SadSmokyMountains project was set for the official Olympics kick-off August 8th, 2008, at 1 pm European time.
The ignition happened to take place not only on the Chinese Olympics kick-off, but also on a date that spells out 08/08/08. Number eight is very important to Buddhists. Right Association; Right Knowledge; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; Right Speech, Right Behavior, Right Absorption and the Right Livelihood are the 8 truths of the Dharma wheel. Together with the Four Noble Truths it constitutes the gist of Buddhism.
In his instructions, Alberto also invited supporters to light a red candle in solidarity with the people of Tibet on the evening before; at 9pm. Sadsmokymountains.net and candle4tibet.org had merged to create a "Light Protest" on a world scale. The first candle known to ExWeb was lit last night in Bulgaria, by Herve Perouse, close friend of French Hugues, one of the victims on K2 this past weekend.
Climber/artist Alberto Peruffo Alberto Peruffo and Fattoria Artistica worked very hard with the Sad Smoky mountain project. The project grew into a mega event by May 11 - the first ignition phase - with more than 100 summits involved. For the second phase, Alberto called for torches to be lit also in main cities and various monuments.
The simple civil action will result in a monumental work of art and a poster named "Lit Your Own Flame." The manifest, along with other art forms planned for the event, is intended as an alternative to the Chinese Olympic torch, with the red smoke around the world aimed to show global support for human rights and Tibet.
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